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G4YSS & M6YLH:G/NP9, Buckden Pk,14-10-11

G4YSS and M6YLH Joint Activation of G/NP-009, 14-October-2011

BUCKDEN PIKE G/NP-009. G4YSS - John using GX0OOO/P; M6YLH - Hazel using own call.

All times UTC on 14-10-11 UOS. Joint activation with Hazel; her second SOTA activation.

MF / HF QRO: IC706-2G, link dipole with loading coils for 160m. 11V, 9.0 Ah Li-Po battery (2 x 4.5 Ah).
VHF: IC-E90 4-Band VHF. Half-wave J-Pole for 2m FM & extended rubber duck with counterpoise for 4m FM.
Spare rig: Jingtong JT208 2W 2m-FM H/H.

After dropping Grandson Jack off at the childminder’s, Hazel & I left Scarborough at 07:12 for the 81 mile drive to Bishopdale. We arrived at the planned ‘new’ start point at 09:23; a disused quarry at SD 9455 7996. My usual start point for Buckden Pike is SD 9432 8037 but today we thought we’d try to find something easier and shorter. We were successful in finding a fresh route which was the shortest yet with little more ascent than before. Along it were no obstructions, only about 2 x 4m of reascent resulting from a beck crossing and a we had a path of sorts, for much of the way. This route may be used by many for all I know. If so I apologize for calling it ‘new’ but it’s certainly new to me.

We left the car at 09:39.

NP9 (2011) ROUTE:
From the quarry parking place at SD 9455 7996 (413m ASL) the way goes initially up the tarmac, through a gate at SD 9454 8000, across fields then through a second gate at SD 9475 7979. Both gates can be opened OK and a path across pasture land connects the two.

After the second gate we turned left but this was a mistake which took us into a boggy reed bed. In the fog it was difficult to see but upon descending in clear viz, we found that a poor sort of path runs around this area. We should have followed this via: SD 9479 7975, SD 9486 7977 and SD 9507 7981 the latter point where it is a quad track.

From here we headed up steep ground by a wall corner at SD 9516 7975. The path was then relocated at SD 9521 7966 passing through a gateless gap in the wall at SD 9534 7954. There was more steep ground up to SD 9539 7951 and then along to an simple beck crossing by the wall at SD 9546 7947. Here at Cow Close Gill, is the only bit of height loss on the entire route and it’s probably no more than around 3 or 4m each way.

From the Gill crossing, swing right (south) to pick up the meagre path again at SD 9547 7936 and SD 9551 7933. Less than 300m later this wall-path joins the ‘main drag’ coming up from Cray, at SD 9565 7921. The Cray path now takes you all the way to the top, via SD 9609 7885 in luxurious manner, being fully surfaced and stepped in places. On the way up we saw Rabbits, some large, hairy caterpillars and a couple of noisy Red Grouse. The summit was upon us earlier than we expected which makes a pleasant change.

In deference to Hazel’s walking problems which can be severe especially on the steep sections we encountered, added to route marking in constant low-cloud, the going was quite slow. The elapsed time for the ascent was 75 minutes but I think it could be done in around 45 now that the route is known. Route distance, one way, is around 2.4km. The required ascent, including reascents of 4m on the way up and the same on the way down, is 297m give or take a metre or two.

With a brisk southerly breeze we headed a little further south for the activation, getting as far as an east-west running wall which provided some respite. Orange mobile phone coverage is not good on either NP9 or the twin peak of NP8. That said I did manage to fire off a couple of texts which were received OK and sufficient of a phone call to ask Roy G4SSH to alert Mark G0VOF that we were now ready for 160m. Roy also said he’d spot us for 20 minutes hence. After that the call was cut off abruptly. Not long after setting up, we saw the only walkers of the day.

BUCKDEN PIKE, G/NP-009, 702m, 6pts, 10:54 to 13:58. 10 Deg.C. Wind southerly at 15 mph. Overcast with constant low-cloud throughout. Intermittent Orange mobile coverage. LOC: IO84XE, WAB: SD97.

1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s:
G4OBK was the first caller. Phil was doing better today. His response to my 50 Watts was a 589 report whilst Phil was well over the nine to me. Currently the issue is severe noise at Phil’s QTH. I don’t think he has had a chance to investigate it yet. He did say that he would put up a Beverage antenna. Whether he did that or it was because he was the closest 160m station to me today, I don’t know but it worked.

Not so the Dublin stations EI7CC & EI2CL. Nil heard from NP9 by Mike, I later found out. NP9 is well east from Eire but I worked Mike last time I was here.

After Phil came Roy G4SSH located just west of Scarborough and therefore more or less line-of-sight with a weakish but reliable signal. 50 Watts again.

I had already heard snippets from G0VOF/ ‘Motorcycle Portable’ but Mark called Hazel on 2m FM to say he was hearing me on 1.8 in QSB. After a couple of attempts we exchanged OK giving Mark something to write about in the 160m section of the next SOTA news. Mark could now beat it back from whence he came - the works QTH. When it comes to Top Band, this operator is as keen as any I can name!

Though I tried with CQ’s for a while afterwards, John G0TDM was the final copy on this band. For Mark and John the power was increased to 100W.

Hazel - 2FM - 13 QSO’s inc S2S:
While I had been splashing dots & dashes out on MF, Hazel had busied herself with making M6YLH a little better known on 2m-FM. On a frequency of 145.400 she worked 13 stations in two sessions - the second one much later on. G0OOE was an early call. Nick was huddled in the tiny shelter at the top of NP7 Wild Boar Fell in the same damp mist and a cold breeze that we were experiencing. The difference was that we had a substantial wall to shelter us.

145.400 FM - 1 QSO:
Taking the handheld briefly from Hazel, I too worked Nick G4OOE S2S. He’d had got a good response earlier on 40m CW and was almost ready to descend. I trust Nick got off OK. He mentioned that he is not all that accustomed to walking in 40m viz but had kept faith in the GPS until finally, after several phantom trig points, the real one had loomed out of the mist. Well done to Nick for activating NP7. It is not the easiest of six-pointers but thanks for the S2S. (5W to an omni vertical half-wave).

3.557CW - 6 QSO’s:
Between 11:00z and 11:10z I managed 6 QSO’s on here. To easy QSO’s with G4SSH and G4OBK was added an exchange with G0NUP/P who had set up as best he could during a trip up to Middlesborough. You can go there more often Kevin - the signals were better than normal. It could have been conditions or the excellent path down the Tees from NP9.

The QRP op John G4WSX was next in with Mike EI2CL and G4DDL - also Mike rounding it off. Power was about 40W.

3.724 SSB - 7 QSO’s:
The power remained on 40 Watts at first but was adjusted to maximum by the end. Stations worked - mostly with good reports albeit in QSB were: G4JZF, G8ADD, G4SSH, MM1AWV, G0RQL, G6ODU and M0JLA.

144.050 CW - 2 QSO’s:
With an omni vertical, I was not expecting too much from this but I did have 50 Watts to play with. I asked Roy to spot me, thinking that it might give a chance to a few who’d missed out on Hazel’s 5W of FM due to the easterly position of NP9. That was porobably wishful thinking but I did work G4SSH and G4OBK with just about line-of-sight and good reports. After that CQ’s went unanswered.

7.033 CW - 16 QSO’s:
While Hazel put out a few calls on 4m FM - unsuccessfully as it happened apart from an ‘almost QSO’ with Phil G4OBK, I got to work on 40m CW after first asking her if she would like to try 10 Watts of SSB on 7 MHz. ‘Who am I likely to get?’ ‘Maybe a few Brits and out as far as Germany’. Hazel replied that she wasn’t quite ready for this yet and that was accepted. Plenty of time for HF later - for now VHF was challenging enough for this new licencee and certainly a good place to learn techniques for something a bit more ambitious.

With the output set to 40 Watts again a cold call on 7.033 brought back DL6UNF immediately. After Frank came an Italian and another DL but blow me down if G4SSH didn’t come up for his fourth band QSO! This man does not miss a trick! Later, Kevin G0NUP called in with top reports from his /P location. There were further G’s sprinkled in with the Europeans as follows: MW0BBU, G4RQJ, DL, I, OK, HB9, PA, S58 and Mike EI2CL who had missed it on 160 but succeeded here and on 80. By the end of this session, which was the last with the IC706, there were no ‘Amp-Hour worries’ and so the rig was putting out 80 Watts.

It was time to pack up. Hazel was now QRT from 2m FM but there was one final thing I had to try.

70.450 FM - 1 QSO (Eventually):
We had been putting out calls on here throughout the day but only with a 2m rubber duck extended for 4m. Whilst quite adequate for Scafell Pike this approach was not going to set the world on fire from this easterly 2000 footer. Many of the 4m ops live accross to the west side of the country.

As we made our way past the trig point on the way down, I tried 70.450 one more time. Great! Someone was coming back. It was Roy M3RDZ in Burnley which at least proves that Lancs can be reached from here. Actually I already knew that, having worked G4BLH near Nelson with the same setup from here last year.

The Descent:
After nicking a large rock for someone who likes rocks, we started down at 13:58. For the first time in the day, we dropped out of the mist and could actually see the new route that we had been busy marking blind on the ascent. This gave some scope for a few refinements but I’m sure it could be further improved.

Getting back to the Bishopdale quarry at 14:47, we were driving away by 14:56. Thirsk was jammed up and so was Pickering - the latter due to 1940’s weekend. There were people in period clothes and uniforms, including children, up and down the streets. A few tasty looking old army lorries and the like drove past us on the way back to Irton where we arrived at 17:12.

NP9 - Buckden Pike: 297m (974ft) ascent / 4.8km (3.0 miles) up/down.
Distance driven: 162 miles.
Battery utilisation: 11V, 9.0 Ah Li-Po tested at 29% remaining - 71% used.
Pack weight: 11.5 kg.

1.832 MHz CW: 4
145.400 MHz FM: 1 (S2S with G4OOE on NP7)
3.557 MHz CW: 6
3.724 MHz SSB: 7
144.050 MHz CW: 2
7.033 MHz CW: 16
70.450 MHz FM: 1
TOTAL for GX0OOO/P: 37.

M6YLH - Hazel: 13 QSO’s on 145.400 MHz FM.

The poor WX was not really predicted. The low-cloud was supposed to clear by midday. This did not happen until after we reached the car in mid afternoon. Hazel found this one quite hard but she doesn’t find any easy. It is a case of trying to blank out pain - fortunately she has a lot of determination and I’m sure she enjoyed the activation - the second in her own right - and the help given by the stations calling which helped over initial nerves. On the amateur radio front, she is ‘getting there.’ For one who is constantly looking for easier ways to do SOTA, the route we GPS’d today will certainly be useful in future.

Band conditions were not bad today but QSO’s on the lower frequencies remain something of a challenge in daylight. 40m helped to boost the QSO count as did Hazel’s contribution on 2FM. Together we managed 50 QSO’s in all, including some band repeats. We look forward to the next one.

THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and for spotting: G4SSH, EI2CL, G4OBK, DL3HXX, G1PIE & G4OWG. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for liaison and G4OOE for S2S with NP7.

73, John G4YSS.
(Using GX0OOO/P)

(Note: The route described above was already known and used by Karen 2E0XYL for an activation in August 2011.)

Well done to both. I don’t know when my next outing will be, but posts like this are certainly whetting my appetite for it.


In reply to G4YSS:

Strangely the route you describe John is exactly the way we went up in August but we parked higher up at SD 943803 and walked down to your starting point - we had planned to follow your usual route! :wink: From your new starting point the ascent took us 1 hour, the descent 43 minutes. I doubt I’ll improve much on that - it’s the shell that slows me down HI!

I could hear Hazel down in the noise from the home QTH 2-3/1 but then a local station came on frequency so I was unable to attempt a contact. Sadly we’ve had no HF antenna at home for a few months now (wind & wood pigeons) so I was unable to work you either.

Well done both. Hope to catch you on another summit soon.


In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

Thank you for a very interesting report & for once again giving me something to put in my Top Band section of the SOTA news! Hi!

Since the last time I worked you on 160m from my motorbike I have added a direct 12V feed from the bike’s battery to power my 2 metre linear & any other radio gear I may fit to the bike. The last time I worked you quite easily on 160m I was using a separate 7Ah SLAB, & although the VSWR minimum was at 1860KHz, it was still low enough at 1832KHz to be perfectly usable.

On Friday I used the direct supply & no matter what adjustments I made to the mobile whip, or counterpoise the VSWR was very high. With the power lead disconnected & the FT897 powered by its internal batteries the antenna functioned as it had done a couple of weeks ago, although I would only have 20 Watts available using the internal batteries.

Conditions on 160m did seem very poor with deep QSB & a lot of D-layer absorption which meant for much of the time I could not hear you at all, & only for brief spells was there any discernable CW just emerging from the noise. I had to switch in DSP noise reduction & a 60Hz peaking filter as well as the 500Hz (I think) Collins filter I use a standard on CW in order to be able to read you. In my haste, it seems I also inadvertently switched in a notch filter, which although not a good idea on CW, did improve readability, although obviously reduced the volume of your signal significantly.

The PA stage of the FT897D has very severe SWR protection built in, & despite running the radio at 100 Watts, this very high SWR would have reduced the output considerably. Added to the very low efficiency of a mobile whip on the band, I would be surprised if more than a couple of Watts was actually being radiated. With conditions as they were, you must have really good ears! Hi!

It was very nice to work Hazel for this first time, & as I actually worked her first, she is responsible for my chaser points for G/NP-009. I had sent my callsign a couple of times on 1832KHz, but I was unsure whether you were replying to me so held back until I was able to copy enough Morse to be certain you were calling me. Sorry if this caused any confusion.

After working Hazel for the chaser points I heard a definite CQ from you & replied. I heard you returning my callsign & copied 339 so once I thought you had finished sending I sent your report of 229 a few times. I did copy some more Morse & the final 73, but the QSO was right on the limit of my capability, especially at the side of a road, in the wind, without headphones.

I called Hazel on 2 metres to say that I thought we had made the contact, which she confirmed. I had checked the path between Belthorn (300m ASL) & Buckden Pike & the path is obstructed by the summit of G/SP-005 Pendle Hill & part of a ridge on Birks Fell. Despite this, Hazel was a good signal on my VX7R with a quarter wave whip & much easier to work than you were on 160m John. Hi!

I also heard Phil G4OBK working you on 2 metres & was very pleased that he worked you on 160m, with his current QRM problems on Top Band. I did hear Phil on 160m, but with my SWR problems & generally poor conditions even he was weaker than usual. I could just hear you working John G0TDM, but couldn’t copy anything reliably from John.

Hazel really has no need to be nervous, she was an extremely competent operator & should not be afraid of using the radio. Certainly some newly licensed operators can be nervous, but it would be a very poor operator that doesn’t have patience to allow new amateurs to learn at their own pace. There was no need for patience with Hazel, she was as slick as if she had been operating for years :wink: I’m sure it won’t be long before she takes the intermediate & advanced exams & can join you QRO on 160m John :slight_smile:

I once again took some video, I may put on my Youtube channel once I’ve edited it. If nothing else, it shows that I should have taken a pair of headphones. Hi!

Thanks again for activating on 160!

Very best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to ALL:

Tom M1EYP:
Thanks Tom, I could do with some inspiration myself these days. Will we get out again before winter bonus? It’s great when you get there; just seems to be organizing it that’s hard work. 73, John.

Karen 2E0XYL:
Hi Karen,
Well done to you on pioneering this (new to me) route. I think it must be the best way and can’t see how it can be made any easier now. It beats the old route you were going to use which was parallel to this but a bit longer with more obstructions. They say going from the top of Park Rash via the Wellington Bomber Memorial is boggy but I’d like to try that also. It’s certainly longer but you could activate at the memorial - it’s within the zone.

Sorry to hear about the HF ants and also the local station blanking Hazel out. Better luck next time. 73, John.

Mark G0VOF:
Hi Mark, Sounds like the motorbike neg & frame were detuning your delicately set up antenna system. I had little trouble copying your signal but I could tell you were having problems pulling in mine. Roy & I were wondering where you’d come up from. Having Pendle in the way would cut down the signal a lot.

I have noticed that the more distant 160m chasers do not always hear enough to allow them to follow on. A CQ is often needed to clear the way and redefine what’s happening. Without it noise-bothered ops who try to get in later in the activation can’t easily tell where they are in the proceedings and when to call.

It must be dreadful at the remote end. I can only imagine. You can hear a pin drop on the summit and it is most frustrating going back to callers without result. Frustrating only because I dearly want chasers to get a QSO and feel disappointed for them when they don’t. It has been like that with EI2CL in Dublin since I started 160 ops. Mike’s noise level often makes it touch & go but great when it does happen. Sending the report out a dozen times interspersed with the chaser’s suffix doesn’t do any harm but waiting for QSB peaks can also bring opportunities.

I sometimes find it’s best to hang around for a while after logging the stronger stations and if nil result, go for a wee walk then try again. For the report I wrote down JJ9, 119 then 129 but realised it was 229 in the end. All reports were coming through perfectly but for some reason these errors kept appearing in my log. All’s well that ends well. I use earphones for the activations on HF but not on VHF. You are right, they do help when there’s extraneous wind noise etc but I have still been ‘wiped out’ by hovering helicopters on two ocassions.

Those VSWR shutdown circuits have a lot to answer for but I didn’t know the FT897D had a severe one. Roy has one of those rigs. My IC706 has shutdown. It must be working OK judging by some of the mistakes I have made in the past. I suppose we should be grateful for them as I never worry about the rig’s PA when for some reason the VSWR goes to infinity, just about its effect on how I’m getting out and whether the problem can be found and fixed. A high SWR developed later on 40m. It was FSD but only caused by a droplet of water from the low-cloud ‘shorting out’ one of the 40m links in the link diople. Once that was removed and the link bent so as not to get too randomly intimate, all was well again.

Although Hazel has some way to go, I do think she found some confidence on this her second activation. When you worked her she was just starting and nervous but from what I could overhear later, she seemed to be getting into the groove a bit more. The main problems are getting her up there - she needs a lot of help on the steep bits - and down too, keeping her comfortable and warm enough for the three hours I take to activate all the other bands.

Hazel had some trouble trying to work an MX station in the afternoon - eventually giving up. As we know not all is what it seems in amateur radio or at both ends of a QSO or attempted QSO. Once this was explained to her, she wasn’t quite so disappointed. Experience only comes with time on the microphone and apart from a small group on simplex, there is precious little activity on VHF around Scarborough, especially now that both our repeaters are now QRT (apart from a little used D Star one).

Looking forward to the next acvtivity on 160. Thanks for the QSO’s. 73, John.

Thank you for all responses, John.